Audio Visual Reviews

Too Much! Monkey Business… RADICAL ACTION (TO UNSEAT THE HOLD OF MONKEY MIND) Reviewed

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CD /BD. DGM / Panegyric. B01IG74EUA

CD track-listing

CD 1: Mainly Metal
Larks’ Tongues in Aspic Part One (Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford, Muir)

Radical Action (to Unseat The Hold of Monkey Mind) (Fripp)
Meltdown (Jakszyk, Fripp)
Radical Action II (Fripp)
Level Five (Belew, Fripp, Gunn, Mastelotto)
The Light of Day (Jakszyk, Fripp, Collins)
The Hell Hounds of Krim (Harrison, Rieflin, Mastelotto)
The ConstruKction of Light (Belew, Fripp, Gunn, Mastelotto)
The Talking Drum (Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford, Muir)
Larks’ Tongues in Aspic Part Two (Fripp)

CD 2: Easy Money Shots
Peace (Fripp, Sinfield)
Pictures of a City (Fripp, Sinfield)
Banshee Legs Bell Hassle (Harrison, Rieflin, Mastelotto)
Easy Money (Fripp, Wetton, Palmer-James)
VROOOM (Belew, Fripp, Levin, Gunn, Bruford, Mastelotto)
Suitable Grounds for the Blues (Jakszyk, Fripp)
Interlude (Fripp)
The Letters (Fripp, Sinfield)
Sailors Tale (Fripp)
A Scarcity of Miracles (Jakszyk, Fripp, Collins)

CD 3: Crimson Classics
Red (Fripp) One More Red Nightmare (Fripp, Wetton)
Epitaph (Fripp, McDonald, Lake, Giles, Sinfield)
Starless (Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford, Palmer-James)
Devil Dogs of Tessellation Row (Harrison, Rieflin, Mastelotto)
The Court of The Crimson King (McDonald, Sinfield)
21st Century Schizoid Man (Fripp, McDonald, Lake, Giles, Sinfield)

… plus more of the same or similar on BD or 2xDVD.

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He’s such a tease, that Fripp bloke… most recently there was that 2012-2013 retirement, which lasted as long as it took him to sort out monies owed and ended with the announcement, to an astonished world, of the seven headed (and three drummered) Great Beast Of Crim…from 2014 onwards they’ve been crossing the globe playing the old stuff (recoined as “The Elements Of King Crimson”) that he once assured us we’d never hear again, though he did advise fans that if they were turning up hoping for In The Court Of The Crimson King they were going to leave disappointed… so of course he did play that and indeed most of their monumental debut album when I caught them at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall on 15/09/15. Even there, Fripp remained elusive… as I moaned in my review of that gig elsewhere on this site, one of Gavin Harrison’s cymbals seemed to have been placed specifically to obscure my view of the great man from seat D7, a turn up I’m sure Fripp would have found very droll indeed.

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Continuing to tease, DGM have been releasing the evidence of this latest, most unexpected phase of Crimsonising in tantalising dribs and drabs… first there was the seven track “beat the boots” CD / DVD-Audio mini album Live At The Orpheum… then we got a complete gig in the CD double album King Crimson Live in Toronto – November 20th 2015 (perhaps some of you are objecting that this stuff was also released on vinyl, as I imagine it was… frankly I haven’t got deep enough pockets, head or house room for the black stuff these days.) Set lists varied significantly from gig to gig on those tours so unless you had the financial resources to attend more than one concert (put it this way, while my ticket to see Crimson at the Liverpool Empire in 1973 cost 65 pence, Birmingham 2015 set me back 65 quid… so draw your own conclusions about how many concerts I felt able to attend) you would have ended up missing much-anticipated performances of some of your favourite Crimson golden oldies. That Birmingham gig, for example, heavily favoured ITCOTCK and Larks’ Tongues In Aspic to the detriment of Red and Islands…

… cue the maniacally metaphor mixing Radical Action To Unseat The Hold Of Monkey Mind, a 3 CD / 1 BD collection (a two DVD variant is / was available) that gives you both audio and video performances of every number tackled by the 7 piece during 2014-15. On the CDs, drawn from the whole of the 2015 tour, all audience response has been edited out to leave us with three “Virtual studio albums”, recalling the construction of  Starless And Bible Black during the halcyon days of 1973-4. Trevor Wilkins’ in-concert footage is culled (with the exception of two tracks) from Japanese dates on the 2015 tour (and suddenly the suits and ties dress code make more sense.) The BD offers 5.1 and “picture off” options, not to mention the opportunity for me to oggle Fripp to my heart’s content, even to the extent of Fripp-upon-Fripp in fabulous Frippovision… there are those who have found fault with the visual layering techniques employed here but I can’t say it overly bothers me.

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“This one’s for the guy in seat D7…”

Of course this set is really going to stand or fall by the quality of the music herein and the continuing remaking / remodelling of the Crim canon. No problems there. Whether mounting a Mexican drum wave across Pictures Of A City, outBrufording Bill Bruford on One More Red Nightmare, channelling Phil Collins on the reimagined Red or bashing out a bit of Banshee Legs Bell Hassle, messrs Mastelotto, Rieflin and Harrison effortlessly justify their triple presence, stage front. Special mention for the Schizoid Man solo… Gavin Harrison, the fastest feet in Takamatsu! Tony Levin, on various basses and Chapman stick, plays John Wetton’s parts as faultlessly as his own (like you’re surprised!) The mighty Mel Collins’ honkin’ horn beefs up riffs that now sound like they were always intended for him, sprinkles soprano sax pixie dust all over Red and decorates Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part 1 and The ConstruKction Of Light with fluid flute interludes. Jakko Jakszyk is never going to sing magisterially as Wetton or as angelically as Greg Lake but if you’re looking for somebody to get his tonsils around approximately a half Century of the KC canon, here’s your man… and he does it while simultaneously locking into fiendish intermeshing guitar parts with Fripp. As for RF… Schizoid Man solo… Beelzebub’s banjo breakdown on The Sailor’s Tale… the whole “laser sustain set to stun” schtick… forget about it!

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RA(TUTHOMM) is nicely packaged and comes with a suitably swishy 20 page glossy booklet. Of course time and Fripp wait for no man and while this set has been getting us up to speed with the state of Crim at the end of 2015, the band itself (fetchingly lined up in profile, below, with Jeremy Stacey standing in for Rieflin) have been touring Europe with a show that regularly includes the likes of Fracture, Cirkus, The Battle Of Glass Tears from Lizard, Indiscipline and – touchingly in this, of all years – Heroes. Speaking of heroes, following this ever evolving band can sometimes make you feel like Achilles, always trying and failing to catch up with that tortoise. It’s an exciting time to be a Crim-fancier… then again, when has it ever been anything but?

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